History – Artifacts – The Horses of St. Mark


Quick Fix History

The Horses of Saint Mark, AKA The Triumphal Quadriga, are a set of 4 life-size bronze horse sculptures. These nearly 2000-year-old masterpieces have made an incredible journey!

Quick Fix FactsHorses of St. Mark
CastPossibly cir. 100-200 CE
Material96.67% Copper
13 ft (3.96 m)

Their story begins in Constantinople where the horses were displayed as part of a quadriga at the hippodrome. Though it is not known when the horses first came to Constantinople, they were still on display there in 1204 when the city was sacked by Venetian forces during the Fourth Crusade.


The doge of Venice, Enrico Dandolo, is said to have chosen the horses personally to be taken to Venice as a victory prize. In order to transport the horses, their heads had to be removed. Collars were added to cover the damage, and the horses soon adorned the façade of Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice.

Quick Fix Terms
QuadrigaA four-horse carriage used for chariot racing
HippodromeA stadium used for horse and chariot racing
DogeChief magistrate of Venice or Genoa

The horses remained their until 1797 when Napoleon Bonaparte conquered the city and took them as a prize of his own. They were whisked away to Paris where they would crown a new monument, the Arc de Triomphe. After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, the horses were returned to the façade of Saint Mark’s in 1815.

Where the magnificent horses will journey next is anyone’s guess, but for now, they can been seen resting just inside Saint Mark’s Basilica.


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